My Rat Jude

September 3, 2008, 11:00 am; posted by
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I\’ve admired my sister and her skill with animals ever since she got her first dog, a pit bull named Jazzy. Now Ashley has three dogs: Jazzy, a German shepherd named Trinity, and a Sheltie named Hank. They are all meticulously well-behaved: she can put a bowl of food in front of any of them, and they will ignore it, watching her until she tells them to “take it.” I want dogs just like my sister\’s.

I live in an apartment, however, and a dog isn\’t feasible. So I settled for the next best thing — a rat. His name is Jude, and he\’s a fancy hooded rat, which means his face and spine are black, while the rest of him is white. Rats are great with people if they’re hand-trained, but as Jude was meant to be snake food, he isn\’t. He\’s very timid and frightened of people and noises, and he doesn\’t recognize a person as a being.

My sister has six rats, five of whom are highly interactive and playful. They weren\’t like that when she got them from the pet store, of course. One of them would attack as soon as the cage was opened when Ashley first got her. But Ashley worked with her as she did with them all, slowly gaining their trust with food and eventually turning them into something out of Cinderella.

I\’m following in my big sister\’s footsteps now, hand-training Jude, slowly but surely. I\’ve never had the responsibility of taking something antisocial and socializing it. Just by virtue of my responsibility and Jude\’s fear, I love this rat so much. What\’s more, I admire my sister for the patience and care she must have given to all her animals to bring them to the level of behavior and socialization they have attained. Not just anyone can take care of an animal the way it needs.

So thank you, Ashley, for teaching me how to be a good pet owner.


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